Sunday, April 25, 2010

Artyom: Where Does the Blame Lay?

Interesting that these two stories came together in my "international adoption" google alert. One decries the focus on adoptees-as-damaged-goods narrative that Artyom's return has caused; the other blames Russian orphanages for producing damaged adoptees!

Scary Adoption Stories Send Us Off Track:

It's too easy to trot out the worn, "Well, you just don't know what you're getting," as though we parents of biological kids have never lost a minute's sleep raising ours.

"It's always the 'adopted child.' We tend to want to attribute the child's behavior to the fact that the child is Russian," said Mary Beth Galey, international adoption manager for Lutheran Social Service.

Adopted Boy's Return Highlights Problems in Russian Orphanages:

Russian orphans suffer from psychological disorders at much higher rates than do orphans in many other countries. Last year, sociologists reported in the journal Pediatrics that Russian and eastern European adoptees were three to seven times
more likely to have mental problems than Chinese and Korean adoptees.

* * *

[A]t least some of the blame for the children's problems must be placed on flawed child-rearing practices common in Russian orphanages. These facilities offer a time capsule of a medicalized approach to child-rearing that was popular in the Unites States decades ago, before the critical importance of children's attachment to their caregivers was widely recognized and before we realized how damaging orphanages can be.
So what do you think? Who is right?


Anonymous said...

Need either be wrong?

Anonymous said...

I thought this was key:

"Asking how to establish utmost transparency on both sides of the adoption process is. Ongoing family support post-adoption is essential, too."

because it capsulates both articles and was often the message that was lost in the hyper-media sensationalism of the boy's (sad) story.

OmegaMom said...

It's not black and white (in general). In Artyom's case, I think it is--the mother should have sought help before rejecting him, and should never have just sent him back like he was defective goods.

But, seriously--three to seven times as high a rate of psychological disorders?! That's not a minor, could-be-perception-bias type of difference; that's a major, serious difference that indicates major, serious issues with Russian adoption. My question is, what causes such a difference? Is it that more of the children are adopted at older ages? Is it related to atmosphere in the orphanages? Is it related to the type of person who would adopt from Russia as opposed to China or Korea?

OmegaMom said...

Well, duh. Teach me to read the article first--that's what they're saying.

Makes me cry for those babies...and Artyom. And makes me angry.

Anonymous said...

Children are never to blame. Some are born with problems that are either genetic or are due to poor prenatal care. Others are damaged in orphanages. Or both. I think that sending countries need to be honest with adoptive parents, to the extent that they are able. And then there is the whole issue of honesty... on the part of the sending country/orphanage, adoption agencies, social workers, and adoptive parents. Not only do they need to be honest with each other, but with themselves.
Sue (aka anonymous)

t~ said...

After reading that article, my only thought was will Artyom Savelyev be the boy that helps change the plight of thousands of orphans that will enter into the Russian institutionalized care? Maybe this will be Russia's wake up call to move to a attachment/foster type setting for their orphans. I hate what happened to Artyom, but I hope he is the eye opener for what needed to take place years ago in those settings.